Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Song of the Day: "Give Me One More Chance" by Wilmer and the Dukes

Music Mike provides some great context.

Unfortunately, I never made it to The Inferno in suburban Buffalo. At the same time, Wilmer never played the compact stage at Surf Club in Bemus Point during the summer of 1968. (Rebuilt from the ground up, or so it appears from the pics.) At least not that we were aware. And, despite the 60-mile round trip from Warren, PA, we were there just about every weekend.

The album, by the way, is as solid as the single.

What do you think this is?

A happy Fizzies party?

Song of the Day: "I Scare Myself" by Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks

I saw Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks in concert during the spring of 1972 at the UB (a.k.a State University of New York at Buffalo) Folk & Blues Fest. The event, scheduled over three evenings, was held in a 60' x 100' tent (or so I seem to recall) in the vicinity of Diefendorf Hall and Clark Gym.

The band played a long, relaxed, but well-paced set that featured numerous songs from Striking It Rich. The highlight was an extended version of "I Scare Myself", with Sid Page's searing, goose-flesh-inducing violin solo creating a sense of heat emanating from the stage. (Which was nothing more than a slightly raised platform.)

I doubt if there were more than 100 people at this concert -- about the same number who saw Bonnie Raitt and her band on the following night. Highlight: Raitt scorching the small but rapturously receptive audience as she blazed her way through "Mighty Tight Woman".

Hungry musicians in an intimate setting. The best venue for live music.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Song of the Day: "Tramp (How It Is)" by Stray Dog

"jonsilence" sums it up nicely with this YouTube comment: One of the all time great 70s hard rock epics....totally unique. Its got everything: a bit of Texas blues, prog flourishes, killer guitar, and gobs of testosterone. 'Livin' out of a suitcase makes a man feel fat and sassy!" Go Snuffy!

Snuffy is William Garrett Walden, lead guitarist for Stray Dog. Since the late 1980s, he has enjoyed a very successful career as a composer of music for television shows.

Stray dog's self-titled album was released in 1973.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Song of the Day: "I Put a Spell on You" by Audience

Interesting variation of the Screamin' Jay Hawkins original (1956).

A California friend introduced me to Audience's House on the Hill in the summer of 1972, and though we've been long out of touch, the album and I have stayed in contact.

An amazon reviewer describes Audience as a blend between Jethro Tull and Frank Zappa. I can certainly see the Tull but can't place Zappa in the musical picture.

The Division I-A Coaches' Top 25 Poll (snicker, snicker)

Someone needs to send these guys a wake-up call -- or the most recent scores and summaries.

Oregon trounces California, 42-3. The Ducks are rewarded with a 25th place selection, while the Golden Bears tumble to #19 from #6. There are no mitigating or other factors when you lose to a team by 39 points. Plain and simple, you're not as good as them. Cal should be ranked 6 places below, not above, Oregon.

Iowa shocks Penn State
, 21-10, beating them for the 7th time in their last 8 meetings. (Shocking only in the bubble world of sports.) Iowa (4-0) enters the top 25 at #17, and Penn State (3-1) falls 9 places to #13.

South Carolina dispenses with a laughably overrated Mississippi.
South Carolina (3-1) picks up enough votes to be bubbling under the top 25 at #29, but 2-1 Mississippi's free fall hits a small ledge at #18.

And somehow, Florida State manages to pick up 4 votes.

Unfortunately for the perp, the donut trays were empty

Robbery reported at Greenbush Bakery.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Song of the Day: "Amazona" by Roxy Music



Though I was never a huge fan of Roxy Music, I've retained a fondness for Stranded (released May 1974, peaked at #186 on Billboard's Top 200 albums). And I never tire of Amazona's blistering instrumental break.

Song of the Day: "September Gurls" by Big Star

Musically, many people judge the 1970s on the in-your-face evidence of the two main genres that flourished during this decade: the bubblegum onslaught during the early years, which had been kicked into high gear with the release of the 1910 Fruitgum Company's "1-2-3 Red Light" in 1968, and disco's incessant beat and suggestive breathiness during the second half of the decade.

Dive below the top-40 surface, though, and you'll find the same kind of musical richness and diversity that has always been with us. It's just a matter of knowing where to look. And except for a short-lived, free-form FM era during the early 1970s, it wasn't found on the radio.

The award for the decade's greatest oversight probably goes to Alex Chilton and Big Star. The group's first two albums, #1 Record (1972) and Radio City (1974) are now considered power-pop classics. Earlier in his career, Chilton was the lead singer for the Box Tops, a Memphis-based, blue-eyed soul group responsible for a string of hits in the late 1960s: "The Letter", "Neon Rainbow", "Soul Deep", "Cry Like a Baby".

Today's song was supposed to be "O My Soul", but I was unable to locate a video version. "O My Soul" kicks off Big Star's second album, Radio City, with a vengeance. "September Gurls" is also found here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Song of the Day: "Look at You Look at Me" by Dave Mason

Still rockin' after all these years.

My iPod shuffled through this song during this morning' walk. It's from Mason's brilliant, eminently listenable Alone Together album, one of the best releases of 1970. (Not to be outdone, Traffic showed with John Barleycorn Must Die that it could move forward just fine after Mason left the band.)

I saw Dave Mason and his band in concert (October 1972) in the student union of Buffalo State University, "Buff State", as it was not always lovingly referred to back then. (Perhaps it still isn't?) We managed to get within 20 feet of the stage (no assigned seating) and were treated to two hours of crisp, impeccable musicianship. No fancy light show. No interminably long drum and/or bass solos (one of the main hazards of concert-going in the late 60s/early 70s. Is it still?)

For its simplicity, a focus on the music, and the intimate venue, Dave Mason at Buff State remains one of my favorite concert experiences.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Andy's First Days at Home

Friday, September 18, 1987.

After a hearty breakfast at Arneson’s (ham and cheese omelet, American fries) I drive to the hospital. JoAnna and Andy have been given the OK to leave. While Jo takes a sitz bath, Dr. Ellis inspects Andy.

“He’s a bit on the yellow side,” the doctor comments. “You might want to bring him to the office tomorrow for a bilirubin test.”

Not a peep from Andy on the drive home. I keep wanting to look over my shoulder to make sure he is comfortable. The way his head is hanging, he looks extremely uncomfortable.

Jo and I spend most of the afternoon playing with Andy, watching him sleep, letting the wonder of it all make us feel like the most special threesome in the world.

I decide to attend System Celebration at the Heritage House and glance at my watch every five minute while I’m there, eager to dash to the car and motor home in the fastest time possible.

Alice, Cindy, and Gale are visiting us on Andy’s first day home. That night, he’s fine until 3:30, when he wakes up crying. Jo is exhausted, having stayed up until midnight, so I keep him company until his 7 a.m. feeding time. Sometimes he’s very quiet and stares at me contentedly. I am able to read to him all but the last page of a story. When Jo takes over, I crash until 10:30.

Saturday, September 19.

A more structured day. Andy is kept on a regular feeding and sleeping schedule. He’s so well-behaved, such an angel. I call the doctor’s answering service during the afternoon to follow up on Dr. Ellis’s concern. A Dr. Meyer returns my call, says there isn’t much that can be done today since the clinic closed at noon. All we can do is monitor Andy’s skin color.

Paul Stearns arrives for a brief (24-hour) visit to see his new “nephew”.

On his second night at home, Andy wakes up for his middle-of-the-night feeding , then promptly returns to sleep and wakes up again when we are ready to get up.

Sunday, September 20.

Basically a repeat of Andy’s angelic behavior on Saturday. During the afternoon, while watching TV, I put Andy on my chest and let him fall asleep. He appears to break into a smile when I stroke his chin and the sides of his mouth.

After his 8 o’clock feeding and playtime, he gets a little cranky and takes a while to settle down. I check Dr. Spock’s advice; he remind me that swaddling should help him fall asleep.

Monday, September 21.

Andy’s first trip to the pediatrician’s office. Naturally, he cries after the nurse pricks his heel but settles down immediately afterward.

The library staff is amused when I describe Andy’s efforts at a smile.

“It’s probably just gas,” says Sheila.

Actually, some of his efforts at what looks like smiling have been isolated, not part of a series of facial contortions.

Jo calls just before 1:00. Andy’s bilirubin count is up slightly but not seriously. SWe’ll need to go in again tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 22.

Andy proved to be more restless after his middle-of-the-night feeling. When I first put him back in the bassinet, he quickly complained. I cradled him for another half hour until he was sound asleep enough to be returned to his bed undisturbed.

Saturday and Sunday, September 26 & 27.

Andy is especially cranky both afternoons. He cries and nothing will quiet him down. On Saturday afternoon, I ride my bike on a meandering route that takes me around Lake Mendota, so I miss the worst of it. All of it, actually. Andy falls asleep as soon as I return. Early Sunday afternoon, we take Andy with us shopping at Kohl’s and Shopko. Andy starts to fuss as soon as we enter Shopko. I return with him to the car while Jo does the shopping. After an extended period of fussing at home, I lean back on the couch in the family room and cradle Andy while he’s on my chest, his head resting on my left shoulder. He falls asleep within 15 minutes.

Monday, September 28.

Andy sleeps until 8:00. For awhile, I think I might not get to hold him before I go to work. He continues to be an angel at night. Once he’s fed and his diaper is changed, he quickly falls back to sleep.

Tuesday, September 29.

Andy’s first physical since leaving the hospital I am surprised to learn that even though he weight 9 pounds/12 ounces at birth, his weight dropped to 9/4 when he was discharged. He’s gained only a ounce since then. Nothing to worry about. He’s such a big, healthy baby. Otherwise, Jo reported that Andy behaved well at the doctor’s office.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Porc-Epic Roti

JoAnna purchased this cookbook during our New Brunswick trip last month. Yesterday I thought I'd page through it to see what recipes I might be interested in trying.

As though taunting me, the book opened to page 97

Porc-Epic Roti
(Roast Pocupine)

1 porcupine.
(Whoda thought? An introductory paragraph notes that porcupine is at its best toward the of the fall. Oh, good, there's still time.)

And how to prep a porcupine? Not to worry. It's almost as easy as opening a can of tuna fish.

Remove the skin, clean and wash the porcupine. Spinkle the body cavity with salt and fill with stuffing. (Reference to a recipe on page 93.) Sew up the opening.

After an hour and a half of baking at 350, you add 5-6 whole potatoes, 5-6 whole carrots, and 2 whole onions to the roasting pan and cook for additional hour.

About that removing the skin part. Granted, you wouldn't want to try this with a live porcupine, but I can't picture it being easy with the dead animal either.

I'm gonna take a pass on this one.

Temps de boustifaille!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Meditation on Life with Cheez-Its

I’ve noticed a series of changes around the house now that both Andy and Eddie are away at college for the first time.

The dishwasher takes three days to fill up.

The kitchen counter, particularly around the sink, stays clutter-free.

The refrigerator is always less than half full. (And a six-pack of single-serving Mott’s applesauce, Eddie’s favorite snack, remains untouched.)

A box of Cheez-its lasts more than a day.

I no longer feel compelled to do laundry on a daily basis. (The t-shirt and towel count in the hampers has fallen off precipitously.)

The family room no longer serves as a video-game library, where all of the titles look to have been carelessly tossed in front of the TV table. (And an empty box of Cheez-Its is no longer found here in the morning on a regular basis.)

The hallway between the kitchen and the garage is no longer a minefield of shoes.

For all the “improvements”, though, it still takes some getting used to.

The overwhelming quiet, even with the TV or radio on.

Two of the bedroom doors closed until at least 10 o’clock every morning.

And the bedrooms themselves, now (mostly) devoid of any sign of the boys.

Nevertheless, I’m not yearning for a return to the past. The benefits of being empty-nesters definitely outweighs the drawbacks. For JoAnna and me, the boys, as much as we love and cherish them, have never been the glue in our relationship. Ironically, though, this new phase of our life together almost has me feeling like it’s 1986 all over again. Even without the yearning, I sometimes find myself there.

One happy family
Falmouth, Maine
August 14, 2009

Friday, September 4, 2009

Greetings From Shippagan New Brunswick

Founded in 1790, Shippagan (population 2750) is located on the Acadian peninsula in northeastern New Brunswick. It's a fishing and tourist center, popular with residents of Quebec, in particular.

Here's the house we rented for a week. This less-than-full view belies the fact that there was plenty of room for 7: Paul, JoAnna, Andy, Eddie -- plus JoAnna's aunt, cousin, and niece.

We were located just 2 blocks from the bibliotheque publique. All the signage in Shippagan is in French. English is spoken here, but as a second language.

The public library is the only wi-fi location in Shippagan. I spent a total of three hours here during the week. Rarely saw either of the two employees check out a book.

A recently constructed 2.5 kilometer boardwalk follows the water's edge, an inlet of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. JoAnna and I walked this flag-lined route every morning.

Acadian pride was fully in evidence.

"Take a picture of this," JoAnna requested near the end of one of our walks. Her paternal grandmother is a Gauthier - or GO-key, as it's pronounced in TRIV-ers.

The obligatory Tim Horton's picture. We saw drive-through lines like this not just in the morning but throughout the day. (Full disclosure: we made two visits here during the week.)

Universite de Moncton, campus de Shippagan
Whatever's on the other side of the railing isn't holding everyone's attention.

Seals at play at the Shippagan Aquarium and Marine Centre.

We enjoyed unexpectedly warm and sunny weather during our six days in Shippagan.

Shippagan's lighthouse, with a view of an inlet of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the background.